Breakfast and Brunch

Brunch of the Week: Themed Brunches Rock at the Monkey Barrel

You don't have to go to Austin to find breakfast tacos.
You don't have to go to Austin to find breakfast tacos. Bridget Wood
The Sunnyside neighborhood's rock-and-roll bar, the Monkey Barrel, has started hosting themed brunches; most recently the motif was Bad Boys Brunch, a ’90s hip-hop throwback. Owner Jimmy Nigg started serving brunch at his bar in March with a Wu Tang and Waffles party. Nigg apparently underestimated his clientele’s love for the Wu-Tang Clan: The Barrel sold out of food and champagne while hosting more than 500 ravenous brunchers.

Inside the bar, you'll find a wall mural of the Beastie Boys and Nintendo 64 consoles at every table. Nigg wanted to bring a ’90s vibe to the neighborhood, with live music and a bar full of punk, rock and hip-hop memorabilia. “I thought it would be cool to hear the music we all enjoy, but before 10 p.m.,” he notes, joking about the quiet residential blocks surrounding the bar.

In a city with so many breakfast spots, the owner says, “We stay competitive with unique menu offerings and rotating themes.” The restaurant also has a large outdoor patio and a small front porch.

click to enlarge You've got to fight for your right to brunch. - BRIDGET WOOD
You've got to fight for your right to brunch.
Bridget Wood
Specific menu items for the Bad Boys Brunch were created and named after hip-hop legends, including a Notorious B.I .G. mimosa and the Shyne, a mix of Breck Lager and orange juice. If you like beer with your brunch, the bar has twenty Colorado taps to choose from. The breakfast menu is limited, but recipes will rotate weekly, so you can try a little bit of everything over multiple visits. Breakfast tacos, for example, combine scrambled eggs, bacon, potatoes and cheddar piled high in three flour tortillas topped with rich cilantro crema. Since this is Colorado, you can also get green chile on the side.


click to enlarge The Monkey Barrel's outdoor seating. - BRIDGET WOOD
The Monkey Barrel's outdoor seating.
Bridget Wood
Coming up this weekend, the Mother’s Day brunch will have a Deadpool 2 theme, so if you have a cool mom with an offbeat sense of humor, we suggest you plan accordingly. The Monkey Barrel will also provide paper, stickers and other fun stuff to make an irreverent card for your mom, who will get a free mimosa and chimichanga. (What mom would turn down a chimichanga?) If Deadpool isn’t your thing (or your mom's), stop by on May 27 for a Star Wars brunch at 10 a.m., with trivia beginning at 11 a.m. A jedi from Breckenridge Brewery will be on site handing out limited-edition Comic Con glasses and pouring pints from a keg of Razznarok, this year's official Comic Con beer (which Breckenridge brews every year). Official Star Wars merch will be awarded as trivia prizes.

click to enlarge Beers, mimosas and Nintendo. - BRIDGET WOOD
Beers, mimosas and Nintendo.
Bridget Wood
Retro music is always part of the program at the Monkey Barrel. In addition to ’90s tracks from DJ Notch, the Bad Boy brunch included an appearance by vinyl king Ryan Dykstra, whom we honored for his Best Blowout Record Sales this year. Dykstra runs a traveling pop-up record shop out of a converted school bus; his collection included vinyl pertaining to the brunch theme but stretches far beyond that. “Pop-ups keep our industry interesting [and] cool — and it never gets stale,” Dykstra says.

While the menu and themes at the Monkey Barrel will change every week, the popular items are here to stay. Nigg says that the tacos and chicken and waffles will always be menu staples, but the kitchen will get creative and add new items each week. The Monkey Barrel serves brunch on Sundays, but the start time isn't always the same, so be sure to visit the bar's Facebook page for updated events. The bar also serves lunch and dinner daily, but no longer offers Carbone's Italian sandwiches; at the end of 2017, Nick Lonardo decided to end his run there serving his family's recipes.

The Monkey Barrel is located at 4401 Tejon Street and is open from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily. Call 720-638-3655 or visit the bar's website for more details.
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Bridget Wood is a contributor to Westword’s Food & Drink section. She can be found wandering Denver, mimosa in hand, searching for the best brunch spots the city has to offer. She spends her weekends shopping for obscure records and working on the Sunday crossword puzzle. Despite her Boston roots, she is learning to love green chile.